The majority of motorists are either unaware of the EU tyre labelling regulations or do not accurately understand what is covered a year after they were introduced, according to research for Continental Tyres.
The new system of classification came into force on 1st November 2012 and a study this month reveals that only one in four (27 per cent) are confident of the regulations.
Some 2,000 drivers were questioned for Continental Tyres as part of their regular research into attitudes to tyre buying and road safety.
When asked to name the categories on tyre labels, some 59 per cent said stopping distance/grip on dry roads was included when it does not form part of the product characteristics disclosed on the label.
The stopping distance/grip on wet roads was correctly identified by 56 per cent of respondents followed by fuel economy (rolling resistance) and external noise.
Laura Hardy, spokesperson for Continental Tyres, said: “With so many different products on sale and with such a range in performance it is really important that motorists are better informed when it comes to deciding what tyres to choose as it directly affects their safety.”
In the study, motorists told the researchers that grip in wet conditions was their first consideration when buying tyres.
Laura Hardy added: “Given how important tyre performance on wet roads is in terms of stopping distances it is reassuring that drivers see this characteristic as the primary consideration for them.
“Though if tens of millions of people are not aware or don’t understand the new labels, then the risk is they are not getting what they want.”
“At Continental, we believe when people understand the performance characteristics of different tyres – they make buying decisions with safety in mind.”
For more than a third (37 per cent) an MOT failure is the most likely prompt for changing tyres.
Some six in ten will shop around for the best prices on tyres. A lack of confidence in buying tyres is revealed as 42 per cent of people either get someone to do it for them or enlist someone to go with them to offer support.
One in four respondents wrongly identified one of the categories on tyre labels as the distance the tyre would last.
The external noise of a tyre – one of the three categories covered by the EU label – ranked only tenth in the list of priorities motorists had when then considered what tyres to select.
The study asked people to rank their priorities when it comes to buying tyres – motorists listed what is important to them as follows:
1. Stopping distance/grip on wet roads
2. How many miles a tyre will last
3. Fuel economy
4. Stopping distance/grip on dry roads
5. That is comes from a dealer I trust
6. That it is the cheapest I can get
7. That it is a brand I have heard of
8. That it is a premium brand
9. No idea about buying criteria
10. The noise the tyre makes on the outside of the car
Laura Hardy added: “Clearly the performance of tyres is important to drivers and they recognise the implications in terms of their safety.
“With consumers identifying this as a priority it is important that information on performance is accessible and understood.”